Did Pandora Bring Trouble or Transformation for Women?

April 26, 2012
When Pandora opened the box and released the spites, was she merely the bringer of spites or the bringer of the vessel of transformation of feminine energies?


A “Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.




INTRODUCTION by Arlene F. Harder, MA, MFT — We are often dismissive of myths, claiming we are so much more  sophisticated than those people who  lived centuries ago. Yet myths carry a seed of truth and it is through an exploration of them that we can more easily understand ourselves today.

The myth of Pandora is one of those myths with buried lessons and I was glad that Sandra Geyer Miller give me permission several years ago to reprint her articles on the topic.

Unfortunately, when I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I am moving several of them here to the blog, where they will still be available for people to stumble across, or to search by using tags. I call these “Fond Farewell Articles” and will share them every once-in-awhile for those who didn’t read them on the site.

In this post I have added bold to some phrases or sentences so even if you don’t want to read this excellent piece thoroughly, you can skim it quickly and discover the kernel of truth in a popular myth and then may want to read all of it.

Arlene F. Harder, MA, MFT



Kashmiri writing box, 19thC

During my studies of goddess mythology I was struck by the myth of Pandora and her “box”. Here was a myth of the first woman that continues to haunt the image of women even today. Foolish Pandora, who opened the forbidden casket and released the Spites – Old Age, Labor, Sickness, Insanity, Vice, and Passion – to spread and cover the earth. Was she merely the bringer of spites, the revengeful curse of Zeus, or was she as the mother of life also bringer of the vessel of transformation of feminine energies?

Only examination of the Greek version of the myth within the larger framework of “creation and fall” mythic themes, can reveal to us clues about the feminine psyche and its evolution. All of the psychological literature of the last twenty-five years has not dispelled the cultural and spiritual shadow that surrounds the image of woman.

The two myths still prevalent today are the Adam/Eve/Serpent and Pandora/Epimetheus/Prometheus stories depicting the first woman and the fall. In these myths the primordial images of beauty/hag, innocence/temptation, and obedience/disobedience are developed. With the coming of woman, man’s paradise is ruptured, and the duality of time/eternity, good/evil and birth/death is begun. Much has been written about the Adam and Eve story, but little has been written about Pandora. The Greek and Judeo-Christian versions of the Eve and Pandora myths serve to propagandize the message of the early patriarchy about the status of women at that time.

Forthwith he made an evil thing for men as the Price of fire; for the very famous Limping God formed of earth the likeness of a shy maiden as the son of Cronus willed. And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed her with silvery raiment, and down from her head she spread with her hands a embroidered veil, a wonder to see;

And she, Pallas Athene, put about her head lovely garlands, flowers of new grown herbs.

Also she put upon her head a crown of gold which the very famous Limping God made himself and worked with his own hands as a favor to Zeus his father. On it was much curious work wonderful to see; for of the many creatures which the land and sea rear up, he put most upon it, wonderful things, like living beings with voices: and great beauty shone out from it. (Evelyn-White, 1950, pp. 120ff)

Pandora is portrayed as the product of Hephaestus’ craft and Zeus’s guile, – Zeus’s curse for the theft of fire by Prometheus. She was fashioned as a bewitching beauty endowed with gifts from all the gods and goddesses.

Feminists have said that women today can “have it all” which contains an element of truth, as Pandora means “all gifts”, but given the requirements of the patriarchal society, today’s Pandora can manifest only a few gifts if she is lucky.

And as for beauty, modern day Pandora is fashioned by the incarnate Hephaestus skilled as plastic surgeon with liposuction, face lifts, plastic implants and body contouring. The seductive beautification process has become limited to the physical body. Instead of Pandora as an image of the all-gifted, we have the anorexic, addicted star, princess or first lady who fight the ravages of time and duality with physical escapes. The quasi-feminist business woman who adorns herself in men’s clothing and adopts men’s behavior, crashes into the invisible corporate barrier and is dazed and perplexed. She doesn’t realize that her male competitors sense that it may be Pandora with her box that is knocking on the doors of power.

The ritual of the bachelor party is still prevalent today, where the groom is given one last good fling before he goes to his doom. Professor Henry Higgins in the modern musical, based on “Pygmalion”, Lerner and Lowe’s “My Fair Lady” quips….

Let a woman in your life and you’re plunging in a knife. Let the others of my sex tie the knot around their necks, I’d prefer a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition than to ever let a woman in my life!…..Women are irrational, that’s all there is to that. Their heads are full of cotton, hay and rags. They’re nothing but exasperating, irritating, fascinating, calculating, agitating, maddening, and infuriating hags! (Lerner and Lowe, 1959, p. 112)

The curse is alive today and Pandora is still the “fatal attraction”, adorned by the fashion designers whose models may be anorexias in beauty’s garb. Poor Pandora was she really meant to become the projected vision of an angular masculine twig with no bosom, no rounded hip, no fertility? What has become of her magic girdle, her crown of gold, her iridescent gown, woven by Athene herself, the master weaver? And what of the aging crone with Aphrodite fading who has nothing left but the blame because she may be deserted by her husband who goes off with another Pandora, she is left with Rhea-coronis, the death aspect.

Owning the myth of Pandora for today’s woman means to be willing to live with the knowledge of the curses and the gifts, to be wholly conscious of the dark and the light side of her own psyche, and to be willing to enter into the process of transformation of the feminine as expressed within her and as expressed within the collective. Without fight or flight, without revenge, without sex change or facsimile, without taking on the appearances or mannerisms of the masculine, each woman is challenged as never before to embrace Pandora. To get in touch with the inner Pandora is to embrace one’s seductress, insatiable curiosity, deceiving beauty, cunning Trickster, spinner and weaver, politician, creator/destroyer, daughter/mother, and virgin/whore parts.

For the hope shut up within the box is delusive Hope to keep us hoping for a return to lost paradise. As Hillman so aptly puts it:

“Because hope has this core of illusion it favors repression. By hoping for the ‘status quo ante’, we repress the present state of weakness and suffering and all it can bring. Postures of strength are responsible for many major complaints today – ulcers, vascular and coronary conditions, high blood-pressure, stress syndrome, alcoholism, highway and sport accidents, mental breakdown. The will to fall ill, like the suicide impulse, leads patient and physician face to face with morbidity, which stubbornly returns in spite of all hope to the contrary.” (Hillman, 1976, p.158).

While Hope is considered to be an inherent and instinctual gift of optimism in humans, it has been misunderstood in the context of the Pandora myth. This misunderstanding is still with us today commemorated in the custom of the bride’s Hope Chest, filled with gifts and adornments to grace a future home.

A delusional Hope is born of the Trickster archetype. Anthropologist Angeles Arrien approaches the subject this way: In Wokini, Olympic runner Billy Mills offers eight lies of Iktumi (the trickster or liar figure) from the Lakota tradition that can jeopardize happiness or set up obstacles in a person’s life. Iktumi’s ancient invitation to self-deception follows:

  • If only I were rich, then I would be happy.
  • If only I were famous, then I would be happy.
  • If only I could find the right person to marry, then I would be happy.
  • If only I had more friends, then I would be happy.
  • If only I were more attractive, then I would be happy.
  • If only I weren’t physically handicapped in any way, then I would be happy.
  • If only someone close to me hadn’t died, then I could be happy.
  • If only the world were a better place, then I would be happy.

None of these illusions is true in relationship to our happiness and salvation. We obsessively strive at work and at home for as many of the eight illusions as we can… things that Iktumi tells us will make us happy. Once these goals are attained we are often stunned to find ourselves still without satisfaction, still without meaning, or still without happiness. According to Iktomi’s ways, ceasing to strive for meaning and happiness allows us to become liberated from our own fear and false attachments.

If women can understand that the underlying power and wholeness of the feminine is the mediatrix of life/death, consciousness/un-consciousness then they no longer will carry the reflection of the masculine projection of the evil “bringer”. In turn, the men may be forced inward to own the feminine aspects within themselves.

The new emerging mythic psychology calls for us to penetrate these inner domains and encounter the sacred images normally hidden from view. Like shamans, and like Orpheus and Persephane, we learn to journey to the underworld reality and return to the waking world. We learn to incorporate the mythic dimension within the physical, and be the knower of both.

© Copyright 1995, Sandra Geyer Miller, MA

I Knew I Wasn’t THAT Good

April 22, 2012
If you sent me an email recently and I haven’t responded, it may be because I gave you the wrong address!

Cartoon of red, embarrassed faceBack on April 4 in a post titled A Book for a Blooper, I invited people to search for mistakes in the new Support4Change website that my editing might have missed. (Even though there may be mistakes here on the blog, I am specially asking for help on the website.)

I was puzzled to receive very few responses. There surely had to be more than one or two misspellings, grammar errors, and broken links out of all those pages.

Today I discovered that there were quite a few emails that hadn’t gotten through to me because the email address on the Contact page was wrong!

Talk about errors!!

I am so embarrassed. I don’t know what those undelivered emails said or who they were from.

SO if you have sent an email telling me about an error on the site (or about anything else) please send it again. I have checked the contact page and it is working today.

The book I will give to the first five people who point out an error is Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life, a component of the Set Goals With Confidence Program.

Use the comment section below, or the Contact Us form on the website. I have checked it out and it is working correctly.

My apologies to anyone who’s written and hasn’t gotten a response.

Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

April 23, 2012
When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
My apologies to anyone who has tried to contact me through the website since it got switched to the new format about March 20. Just discovered that I had inadvertently (obviously I didn’t do it intentionally) used the incorrect email address for the contact us page.


A Fond Farewell Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.



A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give Eggup. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit Coffee Beanand boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

PanTurning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked. “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another lever?

How do you handle Adversity? Are you a Carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?


Daily Survival Kit for Serious Illnesses

April 19, 2012
If you, or someone you love, is facing a serious, life-threatening illness, you don’t need to feel completely powerless. Every day there is something you can do to take control, even if only in a small way.



When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags.

Over the years I have been contacted by a number of people for permission to reprint this and if you are also interested, you may contact Hope Raymond, the woman who holds the copyright.

I hope you will find strength in the suggestions below, as have thousands of others.



By Thomas L. McDermitt
Reprinted with permission

You don’t have to agree with all of this all of the time. But, if it generally speaks to you, try to read all or parts of it everyday, or have it read to you. Part of the help is in the doing, regardless of your attitude or emotions on that day. On some levels the help is gradual and often not evident.

1. Today I am going to try to live through this day only, and not dwell on or attempt to solve all my problems at once; just focus on the piece that is today. I can do something for several hours that would be difficult to even think about continuing for several months.

2. Just for today, I am willing to accept the possibility that there is a purpose to this suffering; that it can be a source of meaning and growth for myself and others, though I may not always recognize the ways. And it seems possible that this suffering will not be in vain, because of what may be some kind of existence beyond.

3. Just for today, let me remind myself that I am basically a worthwhile person, worth loving, despite my faults and limits. I deserve the efforts of others to help me through my illness.

4. Just for today, I want to be aware that it is all right to want too much from others at times. Illness brings out and intensifies the small child in all of us. And if I feel hurt when those who care for me cannot be there, it may help to remember that they have needs, frailties, and limitations of their own. A lack of response does not mean that they are personally rejecting me.

5. Today I may feel the need to complain a great deal; I may have little tolerance; I may cry; I may scream. That does not mean that I am less courageous or strong. All are ways of expressing anger over this mess, of rightly mourning my losses. Endurance itself is courage.

6. It is my life at stake now. So maybe today I can allow myself to be a little less concerned about the reactions or impressions of others. Maybe I can allow myself to feel a little less guilty or bad about what I did not accomplish or give. Perhaps today I can be a little more gentle toward myself.

7. Surviving this is all so difficult. At times it seems impossible – that I have had enough. Down the line I will know if and when I have had enough, when I cannot push the limits any further. I will have the right to choose to stop, without feeling that I am “giving up.” But today I think I can deal with this illness. Sorrow runs very deep, but I think I can rise again.

8. Just for today, maybe I can give healing “the benefit of the doubt.” The drugs are powerful; the natural healing capacity of my body is powerful. And who knows, perhaps there is healing power in my will to struggle, and in the collective love and will of others.

9. Just for today, perhaps I can take heart that we are all connected. And I may still have some things left to contribute to the family of man; some light to add to the light. Even now my endurance (however imperfect) is a gift, an inspiration for others in their struggles.

10. It seems reasonable that there is a season for everything, and a time for every purpose. Pain, weakness, and exhaustion may distort my senses and spirit. Today, however, I can at least find some hope in nature’s way, if not in some master plan. The chances are fairly good, and it seems worthwhile to hope, that I will have some cycle of wellness yet.

Copyright © 1989 Thomas L. McDermitt

Who Wants a Picture of Dirty Dishes?

April 15, 2012
How realistic do you like your paintings to be?


Last September, as I was getting ready for our trip to Europe, I wrote a post called “Viewing Time as an Ocean.”  In it I quoted Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times who said that  “evergreen is journalist lingo for a topic that, like its namesake, is always in season (or, at least, one that won’t go stale immediately).”

In that post I said I wanted to schedule a number of such posts to be published while I was gone. Then I would get back to writing fresh posts.

However, as you may know if you read the first post after I got back — “It Was The Best of Vacations, It Was the Worst of Vacations” — I was out of commission for quite a few months. Now I am back to creating more “evergreens” while I focus on two long-neglected jobs: getting my contact list brought up to date and getting my computer organized.

In the former situation I have hundreds of people I need to keep track of and have not. In the latter, I have tens of thousands (well, thousands anyway) of computer files I can’t find. Why? Because I do what you probably do: When I first save a file I give it a name that makes sense to me at that moment. A couple months  or years later, I haven’t the foggiest idea what I was thinking. Consequently, I have had to spend far too much time searching, which isn’t fun. Even worse, sometimes a file is lost forever.

So to get those two jobs done and still provide new material for the blog, I’m putting together some evergreen posts that will be scheduled for two or three times a week while I’m doing my nitty-gritty chores. There are several topics that won’t take too long to pull together (or so I hope) and should still be interesting to my readers (some of them, anyway).


This evergreen post comes from Hyper Realistic Paintings That Look Like Photos, which was sent to me by my brother. This page of 26 drawings on the Bored Panda website, many in the class of Andy Warhol Campbell soup cans, are as good as photos. But as my sister pointed out, why would someone want a beautifully rendered picture of a sink full of dishes? Evidence for divorce?

Yet if you look carefully you’ll notice that the pans and dishes stacked in the sink don’t have any food stuck on them. They already are cleaned, so why aren’t they turned over and draining instead of sitting in the sink with water running on them?

Painting of sink full of pan

How do these “photorealists” do it? Do they take a picture and then paint over it?

Anyway, the picture below is one of the pictures that caught my eye because it looks almost exactly like a picture I took on the coast in South Carolina. I would have also included my picture to show you the comparison — but I couldn’t find it in the computer!

Sandy beach with grasses and ocean

Time to write a few more evergreens for the next few weeks while I organize my lists of names and my files.


If you missed it, don’t forget to read A Book for a Blooper. It is an offer to give you a book if you find a mistake in the newly revamped Support4Change website.


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